It is quite humorous when other writers tell me they don’t have time to read or that they do not like reading. While I get that life is busy and sometimes turning on a good TV show is more fun and relaxing than cracking open a non-fiction book, reading is an essential part of the life, and definitely writing.
Reading Improves Your Writing
The more you read, the more you naturally pick up on diction, syntax, grammar and more. Words just seem to flow better because you have built up a bank of examples.
It is kind of like woodworking. You can just hop on a machine and start cutting wood, but you are going to waste a lot of time (and perhaps a finger) trying to figure out how to turn on the machine and how to cut wood into the design you desire. Or you could spend your time watching and closely observing masters of the craft. Where do they place their hands? How do they move the wood?
When you read, you are subconsciously learning. You are actively using and expanding your mind. You might not pause and think, “What a great way to arrange words; I think I will use that on my next post.” However, the continual and frequent process of reading will show up positively in your writing.
Reading to Become an Expert
As a freelance writer, it is easy to be knowledgeable about everything and an expert on nothing.
When I first started my freelance career, I was so eager to write, that I agreed to write on just about anything. I wrote on colon health for a few months, chiropractic care for over a year, and even women’s fashion pieces for a magazine for women pastors. I thought I was gaining experience, but that experience wasn’t in a specific field, so it made it hard to get other jobs. It wasn’t until I focuses on finance and became an expert in the field that I saw my earnings and jobs increase.
Whatever it is you want to write on, become an expert in that field. The cheapest way to do that is to read books in that field. You might not be able to afford a conference from your field’s top personalities, but you can certainly afford their book (or even find it at the library for free.)
Brian Tracy estimates that reading 50-100 books in your field will make you an expert. The more books you read past the 50 threshold, puts you higher than your competitors.
One survey from 2012 found that the average person only read 6 books a year. If you read only one book a month in your field, you will put yourself ahead of others in your field quickly.
So what are you waiting for? Make reading a regular part of your daily routine and strive to become an expert in something you love.